Cities impose strict lockdowns as India sees big spike in coronavirus cases

Words by Sanjay Jha, ITV News in Delhi

India, the world’s second most populous country, has now become the fourth-worst affected nation with the biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Friday.

Asia’s third-largest economy added over 13,500 new cases in 24 hours, taking the total tally to 3,80,532.

The death toll now stands are more than 12,500, according to the Indian Health Ministry’s update released on Friday.

The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu imposed a lockdown with tough restrictions in Chennai and surrounding districts until June 30 after cases soared.

With over 40,000 Covid-19 cases, Chennai, a big metropolis of over seven million people, is the third worst-hit city in the country after Mumbai and Delhi.

Local Health officials said it's a "make-or-break" situation in Chennai.

Only shops selling food essentials or medicines, and fuel stations would be allowed to open, and then, only between 6am and 2pm.

The state has also announced an even stricter shutdown on Sundays, when only milk shops will be allowed open.

Hospitals in India's largest cities, Mumbai and New Delhi are overflowing and running out of hospital beds.

Cities in India have imposed tough restrictions. Credit: AP

A 45-year-old businessman died in ambulance in Delhi waiting for after a hospital bed.

"They don't care whether we live or die," his 20-year-old daughter Kashish said.

Her uncle, Abhishek, sat with Ashwani in the back of the vehicle on its desperate journey across Delhi.

Social media is flooded with desperate pleas from families searching for virus tests and hospital beds. Patients, unable to get admitted, have died in car parks outside clinics and hospitals.

The Covid-19 death toll in the country has increased by more than 25% in the past week, to nearly 12,600, putting increased pressure on cemeteries.

Mortuaries are overflowing with bodies and cemeteries and crematorium staff say they cannot keep up with the backlog of victims.